Qualitative vs. Quantitative Research: Stamats 2020

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It’s critical to have research insights when making decisions about your college or university. Many top decision makers in higher education would agree. A surprisingly low number of organizations actually conduct and implement market research.

It’s vital in any industry. According to the American Marketing Association, 75% of senior executives believe customer insight is critical to their organization’s performance and cite it as something their organizations need to improve upon. But only 30% of those organizations use market intelligence when making core decisions.

And higher education is just the same—market research can help you understand perceptions of your school and where certain opportunities might exist. But where do you start?

First, it’s important to understand two critical types of research: quantitative vs. quantitative research.  

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Two types of research

Qualitative research refers to using tools such as focus groups and in-person interviews with key constituents to understand:

  • How an institution is currently perceived
  • Potential strengths/weaknesses
  • Opportunities to develop a stronger reputation and presence in the marketplace

Quantitative research uses metrics, such as numerical data from online surveys or market trend analyses, to help institutions understand the extent to which issues, challenges, or opportunities exist.

If you’re working on a brand campaign, using both types of research often is ideal. For a brand campaign, if you only conduct qualitative research, you might hear one perception or comment in a focus group that’s interesting—but you won’t know whether that view is shared across all constituents. And if you based a marketing campaign on just qualitative research, it might take you in a very different direction.

Quantitative research alone might suggest the comment was interesting but that 90% of key constituents don’t believe it’s true or that an opportunity exists.

Related Content: Evaluating Brand Effectiveness Part 1: Broad Dimensions of Brand Evaluation in Higher Ed

At Stamats, we start with a discovery visit to your institution where we conduct qualitative discussions (focus groups and stakeholder interviews) to really understand your institution and goals.

We then follow up with a quantitative study that will give us baseline metrics and help us understand these perspectives at scale. To what extent are we seeing that same comment from other key constituents?

But in some cases, it makes sense to choose one over the other.

When to use one over the other

If your institution is testing a creative concept, qualitative research is a better way to present the idea to constituents and garner their thoughts and reactions in a productive way.

Related Content: 5 Tips for Higher Ed Teams to Get Answers Fast

If your goal is to really understand your institution’s image and the perceptions people have of it, a quantitative study can give you greater statistical confidence—that idea of saying, “We asked 300 people this question, and here are the results.”

Higher education decision makers agree that market research can help their institution perform better, but only taking that next step. Conducting the research, using it effectively—can get you there.

Are you ready to get data-driven direction for your next marketing initiative?

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me to discuss your goals. Contact me.

Join us! Register for the Stamats 2020 conference now.

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